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Korea: Bird Flu outbreak worrying

The resurgence of bird flu in South Korea is causing concerns to health authorities as the H1N1 flu scare continues, reports state.

A low pathogenic avian influenza virus was discovered in excrement of migratory birds in a reservoir in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. Despite the low infectiousness, health authorities claim they cannot rule out danger to humans or mutation and pledged to stay alert.

The worst-case scenario is that patients infected with the H1N1 virus could additionally contract bird flu, leading to a mutation that gives rise to a new supervirus, reports The Chosun Ilbo.

"But that doesn't necessarily mean that a new form of virus will be formed when the bird flu virus appears amid the spread of H1N1 virus," said a health official. "But if that did actually happen, the situation we've seen so far would be a mere shadow of what lies ahead. That's why we have to take preventive measures."

Disease prevention headquarters said it will vaccinate about 40,000 fowl breeders from the third week of this month instead of December as originally planned.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo, Korea

Natalie Berkhout

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